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Hello Deadfire Forums,

 

Long-time reader, first-time writer here. I've just finished my first playthrough of the game and whilst I'm sure I have a lot to discover still, I'd like to share my thoughts so far and see what you guys think. Do be warned that I'll be spoiling major plot points with wild abandon, so if you haven't finished the game yet I'd advise you come back later.

 

I'll list the positives first and negatives second but seeing as it'sa big long list I'll give you the short version here:
TL;DR gameplay good if bugged, writing good but story lacking.

 

 

First, the positives, in no particular order:

 

+I liked the new setting. The Dyrwood is far too "generic fantasy" for my tastes, and high seas settings a la "golden age of piracy" always lend themselves to adventure better anyways.

 

+I also liked the approach to building the actual setting a lot better; the colonization aspect means the player is more heavily exposed to different cultures from across Eora, giving it a more varied feel; PoE 1 mentioned and even had a few foreigners, but they didn't stand out much if at all. 

 

+The hook of this game felt more effective than the last one. Whilst intrigue and mystery are fine for a game with those themes, "I saw a man in a mask do a ritual and now I feel sick" just can't compete with "a god stole my soul and now I have to get it back".

 

+It also helps that the sheer enormity of the event keeps it relevant throughout the world, so that the game may remind you of it without it feeling forced; one of my major issues with PoE's plot is that whilst it wanted you to think there are pressing reasons for you to get to Thaos, they aren't relevant all that often and so it doesn't feel like you have any reason to pursue him.

 

+I've seen people debate this particular point, but I did think the game felt "alive"; more so than the first one, anyway. The atmospheric features like generic NPCs, water, lighting, etc. go a long way to making the environments feel real. 

 

+The voice-acting does wonders for the game; after this and Divinity Original Sin 2, I really hope it becomes a genre standard.

 

+All of the factions have very solid writing; their main figures are distinct and memorable as were their identities, and their goals were clear.

 

+Whilst quality sort of wavers between them, all the companions are also well-written and distinct; their quests show actual growth even in characters from earlier games and give insight into their complexities. 

 

+The writing, in general, is just more to my liking than PoE 1; whilst the first game's wasn't bad by any means, it didn't have much of a personality to it; meanwhile, Deadfire's got some colour in its cheeks, some wit and self-awareness. I think the best way to encapsulate the difference is that whilst people scowled at you for using clever dialogue in the first game, most characters actually laugh when you do in Deadfire.

 

+The relationship system seems to be bugged but for what it's worth, what I've seen is cool.

 

+The Legacy stuff is done well enough; it keeps what it needs and what it needs it does well. You do get to meet some old companions that won't be travelling with you, and I wish you could have interacted with them more, but overall it's good.

 

+The combat is more polished than the first one, to the point where I actually enjoy it; I've no idea if it'd be complex to a newcomer, but I found it easy to grasp and fun to utilize.

 

+Many of the unique weapons actually do feel more unique now; this is in part because now they alone have exclusive access to enchantments, which now function more as special upgrades.

 

+Also, this change to enchantments actually gives players a reason to go out and look for equipment, since they can't just upgrade what they have.

 

+Economy's better; getting stupid rich isn't as easy now, but the quest rewards are bountiful enough not to make it a grind.

 

+The skill revamp is a lot better than the PoE 1 system; all skills are useful and none of them seem obligatory, which contributes to roleplaying immensely. The skill assist plays into this and whilst I do think it lets you cheese stuff sometimes, it's well-balanced for the most part.

 

+The exploration aspect is very good and the devs did very well putting enough stuff about to keep it stimulating (if not always interesting). 

 

Now for the negatives, in a similar arrangement:

 

-Despite the new setting and more colourful look, not much is really done with it. The game seems to be struggling to let go of its DnD roots and more fully embrace the fresher aspects of itself, like the psuedo-polynesian mythology and creatures or even the swashbuckling-ness of it all.

 

-Even then, it's just not very creative. Many of the explorable parts of the world remain Engwithan ruins and crypts of various types, whilst most enemies are either ones we've already seen or European-centric. 

 

-The "big reveal" is confusing at best and a collection of plot holes at its worst. Eothas plans on undoing the Great Wheel of reincarnation, which he claims was built by Engwith; this is a pretty major retcon from it just being a natural process which opens a few faults in the story. If the Great Wheel once didn't exist and once souls died they just stayed in the Beyond, then how were there even kith left to be Engwithans? If the implication is that souls just "generated", why did that stop? If they were finite and didn't spontaneously find a body to inhabit, where did they come from?

 

-The purpose of this plan seems to be to challenge kith to create a new Great Wheel, which given they already made the first one seems like madness. He does mention wanting the gods shut out of the next one, but given that modern kith are nowhere near as advanced as the engwithans once were, how could they hope to construct a functioning Wheel before they all die and become trapped in the afterlife? At the very least, the gods would have to help.

 

-Overall, the main story sputters and stops once it gets to its final moments, and the final choice doesn't mean all that much; near as I can tell, you can't actually stop Eothas. 

 

-Minor gripe of my own, but I like gods in fiction a lot better when they're just symbols and disembodied voices; at most, people-sized avatars. Power is at its most impressive when only hinted at.

 

-That previous gripe was, in all honesty, specifically meant for Wael, who went from an interestingly enigmatic figure to a petulant child like the rest of the gods.

 

-The gods could have been written better in general. I also didn't particularly care for their designs.

 

-I'm just salty they made my favourite god look like a mutant Grimace and sound like a petulant child.

 

-The whole main plot of the game feels like a set-up for a sequel, given how the ending talks about the Watcher's increased presence in the world and how much Eora has changed; whilst I wouldn't mind such a sequel, it's a shame they wasted such an interesting premise for a bridging narrative.

 

-The game seems afraid to let factions be angry with you. There are no real consequences for sinking their ships or, near as I can tell, for pissing them off majorly unless you go the full mile. I don't really see why, either; you can finish the game on your own just fine and you have to piss off three out of the four anyway to progress.

 

-None of the factions are particularly likable. They all have some intense issues going on and unless there's some way to change them that I haven't figured out, I don't see any of them making the Deadfire a better place.

 

-Actually, the independent ending is arguably the worse, as you've basically lead two factions to battle endlessly against one another for control of a mythical island, leading to a catastrophic power vacuum.

 

-/+Speaking of, when I did that ending Rauatai followed me and I was forced to kill their leader. I would have thought I'd need to confront every faction or even the one I had the lowest rating for (Principi) but no, it was just Rauatai. This isn't really a complaint, I just found it odd.

 

-The "final boss" felt tacked on; after all the build-up for Ukaizo and its three guardians, it felt underwhelming.

 

-The actual final boss should have been Eothas or Berath or something equally as world-shattering; the player could have traveled to his centre and fight his spirit in the In-Between with a god-slaying weapon, or something. 

 

-A lot of stuff is just recycled from PoE 1; a full two boss battles are ripped straight from the White March.

 

-The combat is way too easy. This problem will probably be addressed in the near future, but fighting Concelhaut the second time made him feel more like a recurring saturday morning villain than the return of the fearsome lich I'd faced in the first game.

 

-The romance is... poorly handled. I was curious to see what they'd do and whilst I do admit the romantic moments are sweet, they are few and far-between. I don't think it was a bad idea to start with, but it probably would have worked better if they'd left it as an end-game goal, or at least Act 3; that way all the romance can be focused in a shorter span of time and make it feel like a genuine, budding relationship.

 

-That also ties in with another balancing issue that will probably be fixed; the reputations/dispositions change far too quickly. Maia had known my watcher for less than an in-game day before asking her out; whilst I thought that might just have been part of her character first, Tekehu did the same a few in-game hours later and Xoti three quests down the line. 

 

-The companion quests feel a bit fuzzy; this may be a bug, but it doesn't feel like they all get a proper resolution.

 

-I'm also still salty they nerfed multiclassing.

 

 

 

 

So yeah, I'd like to hear your thoughts on these; I enjoyed Deadfire immensely and will probably continue playing it for a good bit, especially given the upcoming DLCs (though I'll probably wait for the bugs to be patched first). Overall, I'd give it an 8.5/10, if only to place it slightly higher than its predecessor which sits at 8/10.

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